By Ann Middleton
Bossier Chamber of Commerce scrapbooks at the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center provide excellent documentation of the growth of Bossier Parish. The scrapbooks include newspaper articles relating to bond issues, architect selections, groundbreaking ceremonies and bid advertisements for new schools, churches, hospitals and numerous other facilities.
Of particular interest in one of the scrapbooks is the May 18, 1972 issue of the Bossier Press which outlines Bossier Parish courthouses from 1843 to 1972. Over the period of those 129 years, the Bossier Parish Government met in five different places, at least in the terms of names of places. On June 19, 1843, the first Police Jury meeting in Bossier Parish was held. When the Police Jury met on July 6, 1843 at Bodcau Bayou it was decided that the name for the new parish government meeting location was to be Fredonia. Four days later the name was changed to Society Hill. On August 11, 1843 the Police Jury named the new parish Bossier and changed the name of the meeting place to Bellevue where, less than a month later, the first Bossier Parish Courthouse was built. The dimensions of the wooden building were 25 x 30 x 12 feet high. On February 23, 1852, a new brick, two story, fire proof structure was built on a stone foundation. It was 60 x 44 feet, and was built at an approximate cost of less than $12,000. It was used until 1892 and then neglected until May 4, 1910, when it was sold to Sam Lee, a Haughton farmer, for $25 for the materials. The house built from the materials was standing in 1999. The Historical Center has a copy of the only known full picture of the Bossier Parish courthouse that once stood at Bellevue.
Alas, Bellevue had no railroad. In 1888 the Bossier Parish Police Jury voted to relocate the courthouse at Benton where there was a railroad. After much contention throughout the parish, 21 Benton citizens by night quietly moved all records from the Bellevue courthouse where the records were stored in Robinson's Hotel, a two-story frame hotel on Front Street near the railroad. Robinson's Hotel, rented for $25 a month, became the third Bossier Parish Courthouse until 1893. The fourth courthouse was built at Benton in 1893 at a cost of $23,684 by Bigson and Oliff Construction. The building inspector and brick-maker was Seaborn H. Young. The lot had been donated to the parish for $1.00. When it was finished the celebration ball was held on June 10, 1893. Its term of service was 79 years.
In 1969 citizens in Bossier Parish voted a special tax for the construction of a fifth courthouse. It opened in 1972 and still serves as the seat of Bossier Parish government.
The Bossier Press article proclaimed "From May 20, 1972, into God's tomorrow, may there be a continuous progressive march by our sons and daughters into the glorious dreams of still better times to come." Today, 38 years after the dedication of the fifth Bossier Parish courthouse, the phenomenal growth of the parish has been cause for renovations and additions to this building.